The crushing burden of our lofty aspirations.

Titian's Sisyphus
The heaviest burdens we carry are our lofty aspirations.

Right now, I’m working on a scifi book. It’s about 64,000 words at this point. I finished the first draft – a very rough one – in about four or five months. So I do have the discipline to do that much. I know I can almost finish a book. But then the ennui sets in, the feeling that it’s all too much, or I get distract by some other project – Oh, shiny! – and I just shove my unfinished book draft in the proverbial drawer.

That sucks on so many levels I refuse to explore how much it sucks.

Well, okay, maybe I’ll explore it a little. Just a little.

Most of us have trouble finishing what we start. That’s not unusual. If you’re not finishing cleaning the house or doing the laundry, no big deal, but if you don’t finish something special, like writing a book, that can weigh on you.

We all have dreams. If you know someone who doesn’t, who’s totally content with their lot in life, be sure to alert the police – there’s a renegade robot on the loose.

I want to be a writer. Well, a better writer. And while I had the discipline to finish a draft of a book, I didn’t have the discipline to finish the book.

I don’t know why. There’s probably lots of psychological reasons why we don’t finish stuff. Yes, it’s easier to sit on my ennui and never have to face the fact that maybe I’m a sucky writer or don’t have the chops to write something others will enjoy.

The heaviest burdens we carry are our lofty aspirations.

We all want to be the next Tolkien or J.K. Rowling or Ray Bradbury.

That’s the problem, I think. Those are seriously lofty aspirations. Maybe I’m the next R. A. Salvatore (Yes, that would be awesome sauce.). Maybe you’re the next Philip K. Dick or Ursula Le Guin. But thinking you are, holding yourself up to those standards can be intimidating. You might finish a draft of a book – like me (Yes, I know it’s “like I,” but no one says that casually, anymore.) – read it over and say to yourself, “Well, this sure isn’t Tolkien, so therefore I suck.”

Yes, that’s what goes through my head. I’m going to bet it goes through yours, too, either consciously or unconsciously. Psychologically, that’s the Sisyphus stone we all carry. It’s crushing and discouraging and if you focus on these lofty goals, just like Sisyphus, you’ll never reach the top.

So let’s not do that. Let’s start with baby steps. Let’s set our goals a little lower and start with something we should be able to manage. Let’s just start writing regularly.

Our first, modest goal is to write 500 words a day.

So far, I’m doing pretty good with that. Yes, it’s only been a few days, but it’s a good start. My word counts per day (Blog entries don’t count; it’s non-fiction.) is listed below.

August 20 – 226 words
August 21 – 451 words
August 22 – 550 words
August 23 – 510 words

No, it’s not Stephen King output, but I’m not trying to be Stephen King. At least, not right now. And neither should you.

Right now, just focus on becoming a writer. Once you’ve got that down, then you can be Stephen King or J. K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien or anyone else you aspire to be. But first, let’s just be a writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *